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Qantas unveils new premium economy seat for the Dreamliner

Qantas has finally pulled back the curtain on new premium economy seat for its Dreamliner fleet.

The highly-anticipated new planes will be in Australian skies in October before operating on key international routes, starting with Melbourne to Los Angeles in December and then the record-breaking Perth-London flights from March 2018.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has stoked high expectations for the new premium economy seat, claiming in recent months that the design would be “revolutionary”.

Given Qantas already operates a pretty good premium economy product on its A380s and B747s, a lot of hype has built up.

So, here it is – the new Qantas premium economy seat.

Qantas premium economy front

Qantas premium economy rear

With a width of “up to” 22.8 inches (but actually a bit less because of the way Qantas measures it), the seat is slightly wider than Qantas’ existing premium economy seat.

However, the 38 inches of leg room is the same at the current product, and the 9.5 inch recline is only marginally better (the current seat provides 9 inches).

By comparison, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand provide an extra 3-4 inches of leg room (with a slightly smaller recline). Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific both offer 38 inches of leg room with an 8-inch recline.

Qantas premium economy passengers who have someone in front of them fully reclined will have a nightmare getting out of their seats.

On the basis of these factors, I wouldn’t say the new Qantas seat is revolutionary at all – but it is competitive.

What might be unique is the recline motion Qantas has developed, with several sections shifting to support your body as you recline into a more relaxing position.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says “you have to experience how well it supports you when you recline to realise it’s completely different from anything else in its class.”

We’ll have to wait and see until we try it.

Qantas premium economy

Other features of the new Qantas premium economy seat include:

  • a headrest that can be fitted with a specially designed pillow
  • a footrest
  • a 25 per cent larger HD Panasonic entertainment screen (13.3 inches) plus a holder for an iPad if you prefer to bring your own entertainment
  • five individual storage compartments
  • two USB charging points per seat, as well as shared AC power (it would have been better for every seat to have AC power)
  • personal LED light.

Qantas premium economy detail

My overall impression is this: I like the new features such as the recline, storage and screen, but I can’t help being disappointed by the space provided, especially the leg room. This is likely to be a key factor for passengers on ultra-long-haul flights. Hopefully the seat padding and extra width will provide some additional comfort.

The Dreamliners will have 28 premium economy seats arranged in four rows in a 2-3-2 layout.

They’ll be located right in the centre of the plane between business and economy (in green on the seat map below).

Passengers will have access to the two toilets between rows 8 and 10, shared with business class.

Qantas dreamliner seat map

The Dreamliners will also sport new economy and business class seats, as I wrote about in October.

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